We have always nurtured the dream of healthy eating. Many of us even took the first step and cut down on our oil and junks. But not many of us for a split second thought about our cookware. Does cookware have a say in healthy eating? This inquisitiveness led to our discovery of Kochi based The Village Fair Natural
Meet the Founders
Radhika: A dreamer, ex- corporate slave, book worm and traveler, holds a certificate that says she can coach leaders and is passionate about learning. With more than 20 years of experience in the corporate scene with blue chip companies, Radhika has seen quite a bit of the world to know that little things can make a big difference.
Priya: An Executive Coach, Consultant, Process and Quality expert, and a bundle of cheer and energy. Pushes the cart and makes sure customers get exactly what they want! Having served in senior leadership positions in Philips, Arbitron and Nielsen, she brings her resourcefulness and business acumen to serve a great cause.
Together they envision of bringing together a brilliant range of products that aims to bring back all that is good and wholesome while providing opportunities for men and women to make a dignified living. Together they formed The Village Fair Natural in June 2015.
The idea started from a Facebook post about adding the “iron fish” while cooking so that iron deficiency can be cured. With a friend commenting how we all cooked in cast iron Kadai in the old times. I (Radhika) posted pictures of my cast iron kadai which had many people asking about where they can get such cookware. The same day a Facebook page was created and the rest is history. Priya was excited to join in the very beginning itself. Within two months, we registered our company, tied up with Fedex and started operations.
Naming came Naturally
My (Radhika’s) grandmother used to get her clay and cast iron pots and pans from the weekly market called grama chantha in Malayalam on Tuesdays. The name is inspired by this, Grama Chantha literal translation being Village Fair.
We moved from my kitchen to the upstairs portion of Priya’s house. We converted that into an office space. All backend work is done here plus the packing and shipping. We have an informal workspace. And the over all spirit is powerful enough to keep us inspired.. so, there are no posters and props for motivation yet 😊
Division of Labour
This is a tough question! Priya is holding a day job, and handling our operations, which means she spends a lot of time after hours, talking to suppliers, customers, and our team, communications take up a lot of her time and she is literally working round the clock.
I (Radhika) work part-time consulting, and at The Village Fair, my day is far easier with looking at FB messages and researching for new products, analysis of sales and costs etc.
The First and happy BUYERS
Actually, we did have customers from day 1. Setting up business was tough but fun. Priya and I had to go to local markets and look for things, we would walk all over the place and get super excited when we found a particular pot of pan. All promotions have been through social media. We have to be creative and diligent. We set our processes from the day one, which has helped tremendously to grow and keep the quality of products and services.
From Then to Now
The journey so far has been absolutely excited, we “met” many people who are really keen on bringing back the old ways. We have customers who have bought the whole set and gotten rid of their modern cookware. The only problem we have had is a few breakages in transit, we promptly replace these items. Customers are our inspirations, especially when we get thank you notes
They put their heart and MONEY
We are completely bootstrapped. Priya has insisted all through about being frugal. We would be looking at raising some funds this year for the next stage of growth. Now the company is stable and is showing profits. So we are confident it is time to go to the next stage.
The Journey Forward
We plan to add textiles of natural fibers, and personal care products. Additional we want to create self-help groups in various geographies. We want VillageFair to be a lifestyle brand. And we are confident we will get there gradually.
What keeps them going
Ethical business will always succeed. And hard work pays. Getting to the top is easy but what matters is staying there. Constantly better your processes, products and services.
Sharing learnings with the next WannaPreneur
Make sure your business is not person depended, make it process oriented.
Believe in yourself and your products/ services. And it is never too early to set up processes and documentation. Have someone to tell you what can go wrong….. so that you mitigate failure in advance.
I always tell aspiring entrepreneurs, get someone you trust and present your business idea, get them to “kill your idea”. This exercise will ensure you get a different perspective of the whole thing.
And don’t start a company so that you can grow, sell quickly and make some money. It is not as easy as it sounds 😊
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